Sunday, October 21, 2007

Character Development

So, the revelations about Albus Dumbledore just keep on coming... This could be considered a spoiler, so proceed with caution if you haven't finished the books yet. I hate spoilers, so I will try to be sufficiently vague, but I'd hate to ruin anything about the Harry Potter experience for anyone.

I have to say, one of the very few criticisms I had of The Deathly Hallows was the feeling that the depth of Dumbledore's relationship with Grindelwald was never properly conveyed. Sure, some of Dumbledore's actions could be explained by impetuous youth, but it certainly seemed to me that there was more to their relationship than Jo Rowling expressed in the pages of her books. What hold did Grindelwald still have on him years after their friendship ended, that Dumbledore would stand by while innocent people were harmed rather than stand up to the dark wizard? The Dumbledore we came to know through Harry's eyes would have been compelled to intervene much sooner. There had to be more...

And then, a few days ago, Rowling gave us an explanation that brings it all together. I suppose this will be unpopular with some, but I think it's brilliant. My only regret is that she didn't find a way to incorporate this revelation into the books in a more concrete fashion. Something like this informs the character in such a profound way that it's not, in my opinion, the kind of thing that should be left to conjecture.

I think it also says a lot about Jo Rowling that she cared enough about her audience and her characters to reveal such a juicy bit of backstory without making us pay for it. She could easily have held this information back for a prequel about Dumbledore's earlier life - which I think is a great idea for a book, btw - and used the publicity to sell even more books. Not that she ever needs to sell anything ever again... Nevertheless, I'm sure her agents and publishers would have much preferred that she save such news for a future bestseller. Kudos to Rowling for acknowledging the deep affection many of her readers feel for her characters - and for continuing to surprise us.

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